Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter arrives on New York’s Broadway

Harry Potter on Broadway, Harry Potter and the Marathon Five Hour Session, Harry Potter With a Crippling Hangover, these were all potentially fitting names as we hit the box office to pick up our tickets that we won in Today Tix’ Friday 40 lottery which not only gave us access to the two-part play for $40 (instead of upwards of $400), but also netted us seats front and center of the stage, within spitting distance of the cast – and boy can these guys project their spittle. For all our reluctance to face up to two x two and a half hour sessions after a particularly big night out, our negative emotions evaporated into excitement when we found our seats.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is J.K. Rowling’s most recent and potentially last tale about a young wizard battling dark forces while attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Developed into a full stage play by J.K, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, we weren’t sure how a story, that on the silver screen relies so heavily on special effects and a John Williams soundtrack, will translate into a Broadway production, but after winning the most Olivier awards ever during its West End debut, they must have a few rabbits to pull out of their sorting hats.

The Lyric Theater has been completely fitted out for the show’s Broadway run

The back story

At the end of the last Harry Potter movie, a rather cheesy look forward into the future shows the stars as parents with young children of their own who they’re sending off to Hogwarts. The play picks up where this left off, with the characters now 40 and a new generation of Potters and Weasley-Graingers at Platform 9 and 3/4s, ready to depart on the Hogwarts Express.

As the second son of Harry Potter, Albus Severus, named after Hogwarts principal, Albus Dumbledore and Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Severus Snape, He is struggling to live up to not only his father’s name, but also his more outgoing older brother James. The first half of the first part focuses on character development as Albus befriends Scorpius Malloy, Draco Malfoy’s equally socially awkward offspring.

Albus and Scorpius embark on new adventures as the younger Potter struggles to connect with his parents, battling his hormones and the weight of being Harry Potter’s son. All the great JK Rowling characters are on board: the Malfoys, Ron and Ginny Weasley, Hermione, Dumbledore, Cedric Diggery, Moaning Myrtle, Hagrid, the Dursleys and Voldemort and expect to be transported back and forward through time with invisibility cloaks, flumes and transfiguration. And as they turn back time, they create alternate realities that take the show in all sorts of unexpected directions that more than justify the two major sessions (with one fifteen-minute interval per show).

As the play progresses, you can’t help but be drawn in by the excellent choreography and almost believable special effects. Simple elements like suitcases and bookcases are used to tremendous effect as do two staircases which are the most central props. The whole Lyric Theater has been dressed and tailored for the production (including carpet and new lighting) and there’s little doubt that this will still be selling out five years from now. Every theatrical trick in the book is on display – wires, pyrotechnics, swimming pools and even projection mapping, all used to great effect.

Boasting the major cast members from West End, the accents are authentic, and the performances are flawless, albeit occasionally a little camp – but this IS Broadway. If you’re lucky enough to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, there are options to see if on concurrent days or in a marathon sitting (split into two sessions) on weekends. It’s a long journey but the time does fly – particularly in the second session, which having a two-hour break in between means that the adults in the crowd are noticeably louder/drunker – but not us. We are paying for a hangover. We’re just incredibly lucky that it only came with a $40 price tag.

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